Lewisham to have designated care homes to take coronavirus patients discharged from hospital in bid to avoid catastrophe of first wave

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

Lewisham council is aiming to have a designated care home to take in elderly Covid-19 positive patients who are discharged from hospital by the end of the month.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has written to local authorities asking them to identify a group of designated homes, in what could be an attempt to avoid repeating what Amnesty International has labelled a series of “shockingly irresponsible” decisions which “violated” the human rights of care home residents during the first wave.

Between March and June this year, more than 28,000 ‘excess deaths’ were recorded in care homes in England and Wales, two thirds of them from Covid-19.

During that first wave, the Government made the decision to discharge thousands of patients from hospitals into care homes without testing them for corornavirus – a policy which some say increased the spread.

Care home managers also said they felt forced to take patients in and did not have access to adequate amounts of PPE or testing.

Speaking to the overview and scrutiny business panel on Tuesday night, head of public services Ralph Wilkinson said the homes would need to be checked by the Care Quality Commission to ensure they were in a “fit state to manage positive cases”.

He said: “Last time there were some questions around the discharge of positive cases into care homes and today we got a letter from the DHSC regarding the discharge of positive cases from hospitals into care homes.

“We’re now required to designate care homes and they need to be checked by the CQC to ensure those care homes have got the right infection control measures in place and we need to have a least one of those by the end of this month.”

Mr Wilkinson said the move followed on from the “learning in the first wave” and “some of the tragic deaths”.

He said: “We will need to designate a care home that the CQC will have checked that is in a fit state to manage positive cases and keep them safe, the staff safe, and anybody else safe that might be at that care home at that time.

“It is no easy ask, and our challenge is to get at least one in place by the end of the month.”

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